Commons debate to discuss UK cycling's future

Will the future of UK cycling be decided here this Thursday?
This Thursday 16 October, MPs return to the Commons to debate the future of UK cycling. CTC’s Sam Jones gives some background to the debate and explains why your MP should attend.

In a sign of cycling’s growing importance, this Thursday’s 2½ hour debate on cycling will be held in the Main Chamber of the House of Commons, the same place where the major business of Government is debated and Prime Minister’s Questions are held every Wednesday.

The debate was tabled by the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group (APPCG), to give MPs an opportunity to discuss the long-awaited Cycling Delivery Plan, now also expected to include walking. The Plan was expected to be out for consultation by now.  However, contrary to expectations, it has still not been published, causing great frustration to all concerned. 

It was in August 2013 that the Government initially promised a Cycling Delivery Plan, to be published by Autumn that year, in fulfilment of Prime Minister David Cameron's call for a “cycling revolution”. This was in response to the widely acclaimed report of the APPCG's Get Britain Cycling inquiry, published earlier that year.

Among the report's 18 recommendations were calls for targets to boost cycle use from below 2% of trips at present to 10% (approaching German levels) by 2025 and to 25% (roughly Dutch levels) by 2050. It also recommended annual spending on cycling of at least £10 per person annually, rising to £20 per person as cycle use increases.  In a subsequent parliamentary debate attended by around 100 MPs, these recommendations were given an unopposed vote of support.

Cycle campaigners have also backed the “Get Britain Cycling” inquiry’s findings. They have built up a ground swell of public support through public awareness campaigns such as the Space4Cycling, which so far has gathered support from over 550 councillors throughout the UK.

The absence of a draft Plan ahead of Thursday's debate leaves MPs with little to say for 2½ hours other than "Where is the Plan?", "Why has it taken so long?" and "Where's the money?"  This is at least the sixth time the Plan's publication has been delayed.  Reports suggest it has got stuck somewhere between No 10 and No 11 Downing Street.

Whether it is cock up or conspiracy, the absence of a Cycling and Walking Delivery Plan a year after it was promised is unacceptable. Cycling has the potential to bring wealth, benefit health and help the environment – but to do this it needs dedicated funding not dithering.”

Roger Geffen

Campaigns and Policy Director, CTC

In one important respect though, Thursday's debate is still very timely. It comes one day before the closing date for a Treasury public consultation on what the Chancellor should say in his Autumn Statement on future Government spending commitments (this will be made on December 3rd). Hence the debate is an opportunity both for MPs and members of the public to get the message through to George Osborne about the sheer scale of the economic benefits of providing funding for cycling.

Last week CTC launched its Funding4Cycling campaign which has galvanised supporters into submitting their views to a HM Treasury consultation before its 17 October deadline.

With only 72 hours until the debate on Thursday, CTC is now encouraging its supporters to get their MPs to attend the debate, and once again demonstrate their support for the funding and other actions needed for cycling to become a safe and normal day-to-day travel option for people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities. This would provide huge benefits for our streets and communities, our wallets and our waistlines.

If you would like your MP to represent your views in this week's debate, please click here for CTC’s simple to use letter template and let them know how you feel.